This summer, if you live in Davao City or anywhere in the country and you think of going to Palawan’s underground river and go spelunking—defined by Merriam-Webster as the “hobby or practice of exploring caves”—think again. You just might want to try the caves first right in your own backyard.
I’ve never heard that there are caves in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, and not just caves made by the Japanese when they invaded the country. These are caves formed by nature, made beautiful by nature, chiseled by nature, and molded by nature. The result: A stunning natural wonder that just might provide yet another recreation and education for Filipinos and foreigners alike this summer.
I’ve never heard of those caves, not until I met my girlfriend, Marianne. She lives in Brgy. Sampao, Kapalong, Davao del Norte. Kapalong is 72 kilometers away from Davao City. It can be reached via Tagum City or Sto. Tomas. Kapalong is subdivided into 14 barangays: Semong, Florida, Gabuyan, Gupitan, Capungagan, Katipunan, Luna, Mabantao, Mamacao, Pag-asa, Maniki (Poblacion), Sampao, Sua-on, and Tiburcia.
Once, when we were talking about what to do this summer and how can we spend it, we actually thought of many things.
“How about Boracay?” She said.
“That’s nice. I’ve never been to Boracay,” I replied. “But I want something physical and adventurous this summer.”
“Why don’t we go caving? There are lots of caves in Kapalong. When I was in fourth year, we have tried caving. It was a bit tough, but it’s fun.”
We plan to go spelunking this April, after the fiesta in Brgy. Sampao. You might want to try it, too.
The caves that she’s talking about are in Brgy. Su-aon, which the local government has turned into a Nature’s Park. Brgy. Su-aon is more or less a one-hour ride from the Kapalong Municipal Hall, which is in the poblacion (Brgy. Maniki).
One can actually choose to explore one or more caves open to the public: Okbot, Alena, or Otso.
According to the Davao Speleological & Conservation Society (DSpeCS), Okbot cave was named “after a native medicine man named Okbot who uses the cave as his ritual site and the shelter of his family during calamity.” There exists “wondrous stalactites, stalagmites, columns, crystals, cave corals and other cave formations…”
The Otso cave was named after the novelty song “Otso-Otso,” popularized by the comedian-turned-recording artist Bayani Agbayani. The cave is located in Purok 8 of Brgy. Sua-on, and since at the time Bayani’s song was popular, they called the cave as such. Otso cave also offers the features of Okbot cave, but one thing that makes it more inviting (or repelling) is the presence of King Cobras, locally known as “Banakon.”
Alena is a contraction of the words Alimasac and Nacario—two families who own the farm where the cave is located. Inside is a very cold stream that refreshes spelunkers’ tired toes.
The Su-aon Underground River is also a must-see. In this case, however, if you’re wearing a watch, you need not just an ordinary watch, but a Spyder Submerge Watch, a 100m Water Resistant Alarm with Stainless Steel Back Rubber Strap, so that when you wade through the waters you need not lift your hands up lest your watch might get wet.
You might ask where’s the adventure there when all you need to do is enter a cave, marvel at the intricacies of several cave formations, and then go out?
Spelunking is not as easy as it may seem. The DSpeCS says that spelunking is more than just going in and going out of the cave. For one, you need to ensure your safety. So you need some pieces of equipment: Flashlight, Helmet (a Spyder preferably, if there is one), a pair of Spyder sunglasses to protect you from the glare of the sun as you need to walk to the caves, and a Spyder watch to make the transfer from one cave to another like clockwork. Of course, to fully appreciate the majestic beauty of the cave, you don’t wear the shades while inside the cave. You might also want to bring a bottle or two of Gatorade to hydrate yourself from time to time.
Since you poke around the cave by walking—walking on uneven surfaces, rough and sharp stones—don’t forget to wear a pair of good and sturdy shoes. skechers GOrun footwear lends a helpful assistance in this case. While skechers GOrun protects the spelunker’s feet from those petty physical predicament, skechers GOrun doesn’t deprive the spelunker the opportunity to feel the roughness of the surface, the sharpness of the stones, and the contours of the cave’s floor because skechers GOrun, among others, “brings you closer to a barefoot experience and provides impact protection.”
Over and above all, you need to learn some basic caving techniques.
“Much of the technique of caving is learned through going caving,” DSpeCS says, “and each person will tend to develop their own unique caving style to suit the type of caves they frequent and their own physical characteristics (height, weight, strength, etc.).”
“The best way to learn effective and safe caving technique,” DSpeCS adds, “is to go with experienced cavers and pay attention to what they are doing and the advice they have to offer.”
In spelunking, there’s a big probability that you’ll be bruised, scratched, and wounded. But to come out of the cave unscathed, according to the DSpeCS, it pays to know how to move, crouch, duck-walk, hands and knees crawl or even belly-crawl your way through narrow and low-ceiling passages, uneven terrain, and rough and sharp stones.
So if you’re planning to have an adventure-filled summer, try spelunking, and try it in Kapalong, the “Caving Mecca in Mindanao.” And it doesn’t hurt if you strut a pair of Spyder shades on your way to the caves.
This post is an entry to Spyder-charge your summer blogging contest.